The Shore by Sara Taylor 303 pages
I’m not sure how to classify Sara Taylor’s debut novel, The Shore. It’s part contemporary fiction, part historical fiction, and part futuristic fiction. Maybe this is one of those times that literary fiction fits the bill. as I was reading, it did remind me of Sherwood Anderson’s classic Winesburg, Ohio.
Told in related vignettes, these are the stories of those who live on a remote group of three islands off the coast of Virginia. At times, the islands have a significant population and at times the population is so low it’s not worth counting. The population makes up three classes of people: the wealthy vacationers, those who work on the mainland, and those who are so poor that those who inhabit the Appalachian Mountains seem rich. However, Taylor focuses her stories on that lowest rung.
At the beginning, there is a complicated genealogy chart that became easier to decipher as I read. The first story is about Chloe and Renee. It’s a heartbreaking tale of abuse, poverty, and childhood. Chloe narrates this episode that has a shocking conclusion.
After the first narrative, I found it difficult to figure who exactly who was narrating, but usually by the time I read each chapter’s end, I could figure it out. However, (there’s that troublesome word again) in the chapters where the characters did not fit into the family tree, I had no idea who was talking.
I will admit that I only read about 10 pages of the last story. It takes place in 2143, and I couldn’t out how the characters fit in; they are not listed on the chart. I don’t feel like I missed anything by passing on the final few pages.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. At times at I LOVED it; at times I HATED it. That’s why I give The Shore 3 out of 5 stars.